While every parent wants to see their children eat a diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, some children adopt a completely vegetarian diet.
Unfortunately, research has uncovered a link between children who chose vegetarianism and eating disorders.
A balanced vegetarian diet can be healthy. Children who have eating disorders they are trying to hide may adopt vegetarianism as a way of choosing a socially acceptable diet that will still allow them to use weight.
Researchers found that children who were currently or formerly vegetarian have used unhealthy weight-loss methods, including diet pills, laxatives, inducing vomiting, or that they had experienced periods of out of control binge eating. These issues were found less frequently in children who had never adopted a vegetarian diet.
If your child has expressed an interest in adopting a vegetarian diet, be sure to talk to them about their motives. Help them determine what foods they should include for optimal health, including healthy fats and adequate protein for supporting a growing body.
While vegetarians typically eat only fruits, vegetables and grains, pescetarians eat fruit, vegetables, grains, and fish or seafood. Lacto-ovo vegetarians eat fruit, vegetables, grains, and include dairy products and eggs.
Vegans shun all animal foods including fish, dairy, and eggs, and typically avoid animal products as well, including for example leather, wool, honey, silk, beeswax, certain perfumes and beverages, and lanolin.
If you suspect an eating disorder in your child, talk with your child and your child’s health care provider.